Henry S. Dziekan III/Getty ImagesBack in March, we joked that no one was happier about James Franco and Anne Hathaway bombing at the Oscars than Billy Crystal, who has obviously lusted after his old hosting gig for a decade now and seemed, during his cameo appearance last year, more than desperate to teach those darned kids a lesson. (Even in Hollywood, Crystal's self-regard is particularly impressive; we're pretty sure we saw a smirk as Franco and Hathaway flopped about.) When then-producer Brett Ratner tabbed Eddie Murphy to host, it appeared Crystal would be denied his Precious once again. But in the wake of Rehearsal Gate and Murphy's subsequent departure, the Academy Awards needed a host, fast. So, Crystal it is, the Academy has confirmed.
Crystal broke the news on his Twitter about an hour ago ("Am doing the Oscars so the young woman in the pharmacy will stop asking my name when I pick up my prescriptions. Looking forward to the show"). His appointment might not necessarily be all that inspired, but it does make sense: Crystal is an old pro at this (this will be his ninth time hosting, second all-time behind only Bob Hope's 18. When you're in a pinch, you go with someone you won't have to manage too hard. Particularly when he clearly wants it so badly.
One oddity about Crystal hosting an Oscars ceremony: He himself has not been in a movie in 10 years, since 2002's "Analyze That." He does have a couple movies coming out over the next couple of years though, most notably comedy "Parental Guidance," with Marisa Tomei and Bette Midler.
The Academy has desperately tried to get younger and hipper since Crystal's last hosting gig, trying Franco/Hathaway, Jon Stewart, Chris Rock and Ellen DeGeneres. But Crystal, all told, isn't that old; he'll be 63 on Oscar Night, which is younger than, say, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who still stars in action movies. And certainly the guy knows how to entertain in an old-school fashion, which, considering this is the Academy Awards, the crustiest, stodgiest award show on earth, has its benefits. Crystal first hosted in 1990, when the Best Picture Oscar went to "Driving Miss Daisy." So the guy has been here before. It's Billy Crystal. You know what you're getting. If "The Artist" is nominated, there will be Marcel Marceau jokes. If "Moneyball" is dominated, we're going to start talking about Mickey Mantle and Ovaltine again. "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close?" Shoulda called it "Extremely Weepy and Incredibly OYYY!!!!"
The Academy Awards are February 26, 2012. Sorry they won't be hosted by Muppets. For old times sake, here's Crystal's opening number from the last time he hosted the Oscars, in 2004.